Theology faculties offer program on Blessed John XXIII, Vatican II

File photo/Father Leo W. Nugent

An effort to bring together the theology faculties of four institutions in the archdiocese while offering an in-depth program of interest to the public was so successful last year that it is now an annual event.

The second annual Newman Convocation this year will be part of a multi-year focus on the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. This year's program is "Opening the Windows: The Pastoral Vision of Blessed John XXIII." Randall S. Rosenberg of Fontbonne University will speak at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, at St. Francis Xavier "College" Church on the St. Louis University campus at Grand and Lindell Boulevards.

Co-sponsors are Aquinas Institute of Theology, Fontbonne University, Kenrick-Glennon Seminary and the Department of Theological Studies and The Marchetti Jesuit Endowment at St. Louis University.

Those groups came together last year to offer an academic convocation celebrating the beatification of Blessed John Henry Newman.

The convocation has been called an opportunity for the archdiocese to celebrate the good work Catholic higher education does in the archdiocese.

"Last year was a really strong event as the campus ministry at SLU did an outstanding job with it," said Kenneth L. Parker, associate professor of historical theology at St. Louis University. "We're looking to continue the experience of a liturgical setting for an academic event that the archbishop presides over."

Parker noted the importance of bringing the theology faculties together. "It's important for the Church, the local Church in particular."

The setting for this year's "Opening the Window" program will note the theme of wind and presence of the Holy Spirit, Parker noted.

Dominican Sister Colleen Mary Mallon of Aquinas Institute and Lawrence J. Welch of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary will serve as respondents to Rosenberg's talk. The focus is expected to be on Blessed John XXIII's pastoral vision for the council, with special attention to key experiences, familial and ecclesiastical models, spiritual traditions and ecumenical and interreligious endeavors -- drawn selectively from the span of his inspiring life -- that helped to shape this vision

Rosenberg, a professor at Fontbonne since 2008, recently began his tenure as the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Endowed Chair in Catholic Thought.

A St. Louis native, he attended Kenrick-Glennon Seminary for a time, earning a bachelor's degree in philosophy from St. Louis University, then a masters' in theology from Aquinas Institute of Theology while teaching at St. Louis University High School. He and his wife then moved to Boston, where he earned his doctorate in systematic theology from Boston College. They now are members of St. Joan of Arc Parish in south St. Louis.

In 2008, with the support of Fontbonne, he founded the St. Louis Society for Catholic Theologians, a group made up of representatives from many Catholic institutions who gather at Fontbonne every semester to present papers and discuss, debate and connect.

"My experience in the classroom is that questions of faith and meaning, existence, God, death and suffering are all still meaningful to students," he said in a feature article by Fontbonne on his recent appointment.

Rosenberg told the Review that last year's convocation on Blessed Newman was inspiring and "prompted me, along with so many others, to reflect more deeply on the integration of faith and the academic life. I consider it a privilege to have received this invitation to address the life and vision of Blessed John XXIII. I have a passion for theological collaboration. I am grateful for St. Louis University's initiative."

The 50th anniversary of Vatican II will be the theme of the convocation for five years.

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